Starting Point
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Issue Date:  December 24, 2004

Starting Point


Every evening, before night prayer, which is called compline, Eduardo, our sacristan, quietly enters the darkened church and readies the sanctuary for whatever needs to be done that night and the next morning. First he lights a candle in the sanctuary. The candle is in a bowl-shaped metal holder, which is fastened to the wall, near the Blessed Sacrament.

From a distance, I can see only his silhouette, but through a familiarity with his ways, it is easy to tell it is Eduardo. He lights a taper and then gently brings it to the wick of the candle, which soon kindles to a soft golden light. It is this light through which Eduardo’s features become clearer, as does the small area of the sanctuary in which he is standing. It will be a few minutes before the overhead lights are turned on, but for those few minutes, I ponder about the presence of Revelation in life.

We move through life and do so knowing so very little. There are lights along the way -- the kindness of people, those unexpected but wondrous experiences of hope, those unexpected longings for God.

I will watch for Eduardo on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day, and then on the Feast of St. Stephen and on and on. He will come in the darkness and light a candle and beauty will be seen and even the surrounding darkness will seem to take on a blush of beauty all its own.

And I will wonder about God, who is the Light of the World and who started out so small, so seemingly insignificant, yet so wondrous, this Jesus who came from God and who, as a baby, peered through the darkness as candlelight revealed a mother and father who would love him with their light -- our light -- and then give him to a waiting world.

Just one Light, one Child … all the darkness is seemingly different, warm, expectant.

Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens lives at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, December 24, 2004

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